Our Sutton correspondent, BELLE MONT, has obtained a confidential council document which confirms that much of the #CroydonBinChaos over the past two months was all done in an effort by Veolia to avoid a repeat of… #SuttonBinShame
Inside Croydon has obtained a confidential council document which confirms that the past eight weeks of #CroydonBinChaos – the changed collection days, missed collections, and added maggots, flies and vermin across Croydon’s dirty streets – has all been done as the service from rubbish contractors Veolia is merged across borough boundaries to cut costs.
Since the implementation at the start of September of the change to collection schedules in Croydon, thousands of households have endured missed bin collections, some going without having their bins emptied for six weeks.
The spin coming from Croydon Town Hall has shifted in the past fortnight, away from the cost savings – supposed to be £5million per year (though this year that is reduced to £2.7million because the council has splashed the cash on buying unwanted and often unnecessary new wheelie bins).
More recently, the council has gone the Full Attenborough, now emphasising that this service disruption will save the planet by improving recycling rates.
The reality is that the new service is simply cheaper, costing less for Veolia to provide their service, reflected in the lower charges made to Croydon and the three other councils in the South London Waste Partnership – Merton, Kingston and Sutton.
The economies of scale of rolling out a refuse collection service across four boroughs have given Veolia greater opportunity to cut corners, as the Sutton Council report makes very clear.
According to the official report – which outlines a delegated decision, taken by a council official and never discussed by elected councillors in public – half of Sutton’s bin collections on Mondays are now done by Veolia rounds that are shared with Croydon.
The report flags up that the disruption is liable to continue well into October, as Merton’s bin service undergoes a similar overhaul this month.
The report observes, “Implementing changes to waste collections can lead to missed collections, increased resident dissatisfaction and increased contact with customer services and councillors.” No shit, Sherlock.
Barely 18 months on from the first round of changes were imposed, badly, in Sutton, the council has authorised another service shift, affecting more than 12,000 properties in the borough.
“At the same time as the Sutton day changes are taking place, Croydon and Merton councils will also be mobilising new contract arrangements under the SLWP contract. This also adds risk to the Sutton element of the SLWP contract,” the report states.
Under the heading “Risks and Mitigations”, the Sutton Council report (which was signed off on August 20), says: “Due to the proposed changes taking place at the same time as the mobilisation of Croydon (September) and Merton (October), any challenges with implementation will put Veolia under increased pressure, which could limit the amount of resource available to Sutton.”
For “challenges”, read problems.
“Through working with the South London Waste Partnership and attendance at the mobilisation board, officers will seek to mitigate this risk. The number of properties affected by each change have been finalised. However officers will continue to work closely with Veolia to ensure due diligence is being undertaken on the data at both project and operational levels and any changes such as new builds within the area of change becoming occupied, are taken into account.
“With the transfer of some rounds to Croydon crews, there is the risk of the loss of local knowledge from current Sutton crews, which could adversely impact upon collections where layout or collection points are non standard. Work is therefore being undertaken through crew shadowing and supervision to mitigate this.”
This lack of local know-how has been a feature of some anecdotal reports from residents in Croydon, of Veolia crew unfamiliar with their rounds, and poorly briefed on the characteristics and demands of routes.
The Sutton report continues: “Due to the planned changes, there is a risk of an increase in missed collections when the new service goes live. To mitigate this, three lines of communication material is being distributed to affected residents. As some residents may be away on holiday, officers will review and a fourth line put in place if necessary.
“The number of days between collections will be longer than 16 or 21 days in some cases. This would leave residents with high volumes of waste uncollected over the period. This will be mitigated by additional collections taking place where there is a wait longer than 14 days, with the cost being borne by Veolia.”
Which all amounts to the changes, the extra bins, the plastic walls of wheelies which now line suburban streets in Croydon, the missed collections and rubbish-strewn streets – basically, #CroydonBinChaos – have all been imposed on residents just to make it easier, and cheaper, for Veolia to do the job.
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